DeVos touted failing Nevada school that was almost shut down last year

Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos, who is being supported by Sen. Dean Heller and Gov. Brian Sandoval, grossly inflated graduation rates at a Nevada web-based school that was almost shut down last year.

DeVos, in written responses to questions from Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington State, declared that Nevada Virtual Academy had a graduation rate of 100 percent. But the school’s own board report, presented seven months ago, shows a 2015 graduation rate of 63.6 percent. (That report was first posted by Ed Week.)

The school has improved during the last four years -- the graduation rate was 35 percent in 2010. But it has consistently been on the state’s “underperforming schools” list and its graduation rate has been abysmal.

Despite DeVos’ boasting of the school’s success, the facts show otherwise.

The school was almost shut down about a year ago and only survived because of a tie vote. In a strongly worded memo five months later, the state’s charter school overseer, Patrick Gavin, had this to say about the virtual academy.

----”Based on the school’s history of persistent underperformance, the Authority directed Agency staff to engage in discussions with the school regarding its plan for improvement. The school has made multiple presentations to the Authority since February 2016. The school has developed a plan and proposed measurable performance targets.”

----”Staff believes the targets proposed by the school earlier this week are a good first step but it has raised concerns regarding the appropriateness, transparency, and applicability of some of the proposed assessment tools, most notably the inclusion of iReady, an assessment which is not supported by the SPCSA, in the elementary and middle school grades. The school leader has expressed a willingness to work with the Agency regarding this concern.”

Gavin recommended that the charter school authority continue to monitor the school.